Hong Kong mother jailed for setting fire to her own flat

Mainland-born waitress was angry at her estranged husband

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 7:40pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 10:16pm

A part-time waitress who set her family apartment on fire because she thought her estranged husband was taking her belongings was jailed for two years on Thursday.

The District Court heard mainland-born Liu Li called her husband 26 times, after returning home to find some things missing. He did not call her back.

So she told her mother-in-law she planned to burn down the flat, and lit a scrap of paper to set her blanket on fire on March 3.

She also called police three times but the lines were busy, so she escorted her elderly neighbour to the ground floor before leaving the Mong Kok building.

Her sons, aged three and nine, were at the time staying with the mother-in-law, with whom she did not get along.

The fire melted her bed and window frames, and blackened 70 per cent of her bedroom’s walls and ceiling. But it was quickly put out before it affected other units.

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Liu later told police she simply wanted her husband to feel angry and guilty about not returning her many calls.

The couple married in 2007 before Liu got permanent residency in Hong Kong. But their relationship turned sour in January, with Liu demanding a divorce and moving out.

She moved back into the flat on February 29, just days before she set it on fire.

But her lawyer told deputy judge Bina Chainrai her relationship with her husband had since then substantially improved.

Liu pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of arson, an offence punishable by life imprisonment.

Her psychological report did not return any diagnosis of mental illness.

But a clinical psychologist found her an impulsive woman, lacking social support to handle negative emotions.

Liu wrote in mitigation that she felt remorse and said she was trying to repair her marriage.

But the judge pointed out that arson was a serious offence as Liu placed many people and their properties at risk when she set fire to the small, crowded flat in a multi-storey building.